Kelly English Steakhouse Lives Up to the Hype – Kind Of...
Chef Kelly English serves up French-Creole cuisine with flare, yet fails to wow.
Kelly English Steakhouse is not located in your typical venue. Upon walking into Harrah's St. Louis Casino & Hotel, one would never assume that the flashy, overly extravagant casino would hold, deep within its interior, one of the most talked about steakhouses in the Maryland Heights area.
Kelly English Steakhouse, a 4,000 square foot, 200-seat restaurant, opened its doors on Oct. 31 and celebrated shortly thereafter with a ceremonial 'steak cutting' event on Nov. 1. The doors are now officially open to the public, and on the particular night I visited the establishment, the restaurant was buzzing with the quiet energy of excited patrons ready to dig into Chef English's latest creation.
The ambiance of Kelly English Steakhouse is sophisticated without being stuffy. Meticulously clean white tablecloths adorned each table, which were a sharp but welcome contrast to the chocolate browns and tans of the chairs, floors, and walls. Dim lighting added to the romantic mood of the restaurant.
Kelly English Steakhouse, true to its name, offers a number of selections. Patrons can enjoy an 8 ounce or 12 ounce filet ($33 and $43, respectively), which are accompanied with a house salad and choice of side – sides include horseradish smashed potatoes, sweet potato "dressing", cheddar and parmesan macaroni and cheese, and more.
Kelly English Steakhouse has a number of decadent appetizers to whet your palate. Guests can enjoy a fried oyster and blue cheese 'salad' ($9), pan-seared littleneck clams ($9), or a lobster "knuckle sandwich" ($16), among other things. I opted for the Potato Skins ($10); these delicious bites were garnished with crème fraiche, tuna tartare, caviar, and lemongrass.
Entree-wise, the Surf and Turf ($36) came highly recommended; ordering this for my entree was a wise choice. This house specialty was featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and features a New York strip stuffed with fried oysters and blue cheese. The hearty portion of meat is served over Allan Benton's bacon and potato hash with bordelaise and hollandaise sauces. Make sure you arrive hungry; this mammoth steak dish is served with your choice of Caesar or house salad.
While I loved the flavor of the fried oysters in the Surf and Turf – the blue cheese and hollandaise sauce took this dish over the top – I wasn't terribly impressed with the execution of the steak portion of the dish. My request for a medium-rare steak apparently fell to deaf ears; my steak arrived more on the side of medium-well. While this mistake would be expected at a lower caliber steakhouse, I was quite surprised it occurred at such a revered establishment. On the bright side, my Caesar salad was unique and perfect – the romaine lettuce was grilled, and the addition of anchovies and shaved parmesan worked beautifully.
Those looking to stay on the lighter side of things will be satisfied with the other offerings on the menu; Kelly English Steakhouse offers a variety of salads, soups, and seafood to please any palate. Start with the Woodstock Salad ($12); this array of greens features kalamata olives, fontina, shrimp, sherry vinaigrette, avocado, and chive. Seafood items include Grilled Maine Lobster Tail ($37), Parmesan Seared Sea Bass ($37), or try the Gulf Shrimp and Grits ($28) – this recommended dish comes with creamy anson mills grits, andouille sausage and tomato.
Although my entree was more than enough, I couldn’t resist the sweet temptation of dessert. Kelly English Steakhouse offers a number of desserts, all priced reasonably at $6. Selections include a Macadamia and Fudge Banana Split, Coffee Crème Brulee with fresh beignets and a Kahlua and Baileys Malted Milkshake.
I decided to try the Bread Pudding with Vanilla and Caramel; apparently, this dish holds some significance to English; it is his grandmother's own recipe.
Sorry, grandma – this dessert just didn't do it for me. I loved the presentation of the dish — it arrived in an adorable ramekin, and the addition of candied pecans was a nice touch — however, the taste of the bread pudding was almost bitter, and the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top not only failed to improve the taste of the dish, it cooled the dessert too much for my liking.
While the service and atmosphere of Kelly English Steakhouse are impeccable, and there were a few hits – I still can't stop thinking about those potato skins – there were a few too many fumbles for my liking. For a place that bills itself as a steakhouse, the attention to detail in the preparation of said steaks could stand to be a lot better.